Favouring grand tales of American patriotism or human endeavour, there is a selection of films that the Academy Awards often turn their nose up to including documentaries, animations and horror movies. Despite the quality in each three of these genres and filmmaking mediums, the Oscars seem to constantly want to reward the same kind of movie, with projects from the aforementioned context being flung to the sidelines.
Whilst both documentaries and animations are given their own category to fight for supremacy from within, horror movies have long been left to obscurity, with The Silence of the Lambs being the only horror/thriller to ever take home the award for Best Picture. This leaves plenty of snubs in the horror category, with Jaws, The Exorcist and Get Out each being nominated in the main award without winning.
For this list of ten classic horror films snubbed by the Oscars, we’re looking into those genre movies that were totally omitted from the award show either in leading categories or in the technical awards for Best Cinematography etc. Earning cult status and a popular fan base following their releases, the Academy will be embarrassed to have forgotten these horror classics.
10 classic horror films snubbed by the Oscars:
28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002)
Changing the way zombies were perceived and used in horror cinema, director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Alex Garland changed the image of the monster from idiotic meat-parcels to terrifying, sprinting beasts. No doubt one of the most influential films of the 21st century, the impact of 28 Days Later would go on to inspire countless other TV series and films, from The Walking Dead to Train to Busan.
The lack of Oscar nomination in any category was a total disappointment in 2002, with Boyle’s film worthy of a Best Picture nod at most and several technical award wins at the very least.
Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)
The Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is known for occupying the most subversive corners of the movie industry, so it’s unlikely that he was particularly bothered about not being included in the mainstream film awards. With that being said, the peculiar horror drama certainly deserved several nods for its masterful take on tone and genre, creating a truly unique, truly disturbing horror film.
Not even being awarded for the Best International Feature film category, Takashi Miike was also robbed of a nomination for Best Director as well as his leading actor Asami Yamazaki who should’ve been in line for Best Leading Actress.
The Babadook (Jennifer Kent, 2014)
Recognised as one of the best horror films of the past decade, The Babadook by Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent is the genre’s most creative feature film in recent memory. In the fairy tale gone-wrong, a mother and her autistic child traverse the pain and torment of a physical manifestation of grief and depression in this intricate gem from a horror filmmaker who’s riding rapidly to the top of the industry.
Showing off fantastic production design and special effects, it wouldn’t have been out of place to include the excellent 2014 film in the main category for Best Picture either.
Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
Gaining modern popularity due to the endorsement from the likes of the Safdie brothers among many others, Nicolas Roeg’s eerie horror classic Don’t Look Now was omitted from the Academy Awards in 1973. A psychological horror like no other, Roeg’s film explores the concept of grief and the torment of fear with a chilling effectiveness that you would’ve thought the Oscars would favour.
Its most tragic snub was in the cinematography category, with Anthony B. Richmond doing an excellent job to instil a feeling of unnerving fear on the streets and canals of Venice, Italy.
Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
A well-renowned commercial and critical horror success, Ari Aster instantly became a filmmaker to watch when Hereditary was released in 2018. Bringing brains to a classic tale of possession, Aster’s execution is what makes this film so special, injecting the tone with a hopeless sense of dread that permeates throughout the runtime and creates a truly compelling modern horror chiller.
Among the many awards that this film deserved, cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski should’ve been given a nod for his fantastic work and Toni Collette could’ve even been rewarded for her dedicated performance as the Leading Actress.
Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Released in the midst of the vampire craze of the mid-noughties, coming out the very same year as the ‘tween’ phenomenon Twilight, Let the Right One In was widely praised for its darker take on the classic horror creatures. Rooted in a coming of age romance, Tomas Alfredson’s horror weaves moments of pure terror in with its compelling narrative to constantly keep the audience on edge.
The modern genre classic was omitted from all awards at the 2008 Academy Awards, being worthy of a nod in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay as well as a handful of technical awards.
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
Adapted from Stephen King’s horror novel, Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 film is today recognised as one of the best genre movies of all time, toying with psychological terror and the supernatural. A chilling, isolated exploration of madness, the film is brought to life by the terrifying, almost possessed, performances of both Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.
Not only was The Shining omitted from any and all awards categories, but it was also shockingly nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director and Worst Actress. Thankfully, the film won neither award and conversely, The Shining should’ve received a nomination for Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
Arguably the greatest horror film of all time, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was completely snubbed from the Academy Awards despite almost single-handedly sparking the slasher craze of the coming decade. Of course, the Academy weren’t to know this, though you would’ve thought the film’s terrifying tone and the novel idea would get it nominated in at least one category.
Deserving a seat at the table for the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Production Design, Hooper’s film was instead left out of the awards show altogether.
The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
It’s hard to know where the genre would be, particularly the movement of body horror, without the influence of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing in 1982. Featuring revolutionary special effects and a truly thrilling central story that was spiked with paranoia, The Thing is known as one of the most shocking and gruesome horrors in contemporary circles, even if the Academy turned it down at the time.
Nominated for a Razzie award for Worst Musical Score, Ennio Morricone was insulted by his nonsensical inclusion, with his contributions to the film worthy of recognition at the Academy Awards alongside a bevvy of technical awards.
The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
The definitive British folk horror film by Robin Hardy is seen as one of the most iconic genre films of national cinema, telling the story of a particular cult living on a Northern Scottish isle. Exploring the ancient fear of the ‘other’, The Wicker Man toys with the ignorance of its protagonist as well as the ignorance of the viewer, who too is susceptible to the allure of the glowing ‘Summerisle’.
Omitted from both the BAFTAs and the Academy Awards, The Wicker Man was denied several deserving nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design and several others.